The second installment of Concacaf Nations League fixtures has drawn to a close, and we’re now left with a much clearer picture of which teams are on the rise, who can rest a bit easier after taking care of business, and the sides with plenty of work to do.
With three wins out of four, the Cayman Islands could easily be the pick of the lot considering their abysmal qualifying campaign. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are another great shout for team of the month thanks in large part to Cornelius Stewart and their ascension to the top of their group.
Nevertheless, it’s Barbados who take the crown as FloFC’s Most Valuable Concacaf Team in October due to their two victories on the bounce, and particularly in light of the circumstances. In desperate need of results if they had any hopes of keeping pace with the Cayman Islands in League C, Group A, Barbados produced a pair of results — both in shutout fashion — to push themselves level on nine points after the Cayman Islands shockingly fell to Saint Martin 3-0.
The mood around the Barbados camp could have led to a disjointed dressing room after they fell to the Cayman Islands in a 3-2 thriller in September, but the effort has been plain to see in the weeks following that defeat. To put their level of desire into perspective on the heels of two more rounds of play, Barbados now lead League C in ball recoveries per game (35).
Barbados hosted the first of back-to-back matchups against the U.S. Virgin Islands at Wildey Turf and knew going in that it was a case of three points or bust. The visitors found themselves increasingly under siege as the first half wore on, and it looked as if Barbados might find a breakthrough at any moment, but the contest remained scoreless as the official signaled for halftime.
The Virgin Islands continued to try to make life difficult for the hosts and surrendered a free kick 25 yards from goal in the 55th minute. Nicholas Blackman stepped up to take and delivered one of the best hits of the tournament, which turned out to be the deciding goal in a 1-0 result.
Beating an opponent twice in succession is no easy feat, no matter the sport. Barbados knew their task would be even more difficult playing on the road in the return leg, but all they did was go out and produce a 4-0 thrashing to signal their intent of fighting the Cayman Islands to the death for the top spot in the group.
Omani Leacock got his side off the mark in the 17th minute, and a flurry of late goals sealed the lopsided result. Blackman may have stolen the headlines in the previous encounter, but Rashad Jules produced an equally impressive finish for the second of the night.
Next up for the Bajan Tridents is a date with last-place Saint Martin on November 16, so anything less than a win will be a massive disappointment. If they are able to take care of business, the fate of Group A will likely come down to their battle with the Cayman Islands three days later.